Despite their rich heritage, the Titans have struggled to get close to the play-offs season after season. However, in recent years, the Titans have shown themselves to be one of the most exciting franchises, on the verge of a significant season. 2020-21 proved that the star continues to be on the rise in Tennessee, as they hit an all-time high – with just enough points to sneak them into the playoffs and so manage a deep run in.
While there is still some work to do, especially with key players on the verge of becoming free agents, there is a lot to be positive about. Here we take you through the roster to explore in some detail the strengths and weaknesses of the season.
Let’s say it how it is – the defense was a complete mess for the Tennessee Titans. The cornerbacks rightly received most of the criticism, finishing 29th for pass defense in the NFL.
The performance was a result of poor overall play but there was also little help from some of the worst pass rushes. However, the Titans also dealt with several injury issues throughout the season. The loss of Adoree Jackson was a blow. He managed to reach the field in Week 15, with his absence shrouded in some mystery, and then his performances were lackluster and disappointing to say the least.
The only redeeming player in the cornerback position was Malcolm Butler. The veteran showed team-mates how it should be done. On the other hand, Rookie Kristian Fulton didn’t make the impact expected and due to COVID and injuries only played six games. Even when the Titans brought in Desmond King there was disappointment, as he made zero impact to the effectiveness of the defense.
In contrast, the wide receivers were a well-put-together team and few teams found a way to tame Derrick Henry and his arm.
Davis was the surprise player of the locker room. In rookie year, he was overshadowed by Brown but this time round he proved himself to be the playmaker for the team. He managed 65 receptions, gaining a total of 984 yards and five touchdowns. While he was quieter towards the end of the season, Davis is someone the Titans will look to again next season.
Brown, on the other hand, has an excellent rookie season and was looking to build on that success. He did well with 70 receptions and 12 scores. He did struggle with some injury but has otherwise proven himself consistent.
Finally, Humphries has contributed well to the success of the Titans but could have done so much more if he had been available. He had to go through the concussion protocol after a really nasty hit in Week 8. This left him sidelined until Week 13 but he ended right back on the injured list.
The kindest description of the defensive lineup is underwhelming. While the emergence of Jeffery Simmons as a contender for one of the best young defensive players in the league was a bonus, everyone else failed to inspire much excitement.
None of the front line had much to scare opposing players, especially with the loss of Clowney with a knee injury. Clowney was a loss because he can be moved where the impact is needed and in the eight games he did play he showed his worth, even without a single sack to his name.The issue when evaluating Clowney’s value to the Titans is that it goes well beyond anything that can be measured in stats. When he is fit and on the field, he is the most often double-teamed and so leaving space for his colleagues.
While Simmons and Clowney were the best of the defensive line, DuQuan Jones had a respectable season too, with some solid stats. He probably did enough to secure his future in Tennessee. The rest – the likes of Crawford, Tart, Dickerson and Murchison all had moments that impressed but were otherwise uninspiring.
As with the rest of the squad, the offense has been plagued by injuries. The success enjoyed last season was thanks to the efforts of Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. While Tannehill is consistent and offers good yardage, Henry is the workhorse that keeps on giving. Firkser has also been playing well and provides another option for Tannehill – which is much needed when the defense has been so lacking.
Hopes for next season
The Titans have proven they can compete with some of the best teams in the league, despite a season plagued with injury and a lackluster defense. Consequently, we should be hopeful for a successful 2021, right? It is likely that the Titans will win both matchups with the Jaguars. It is also likely that they will take one win from the Colts and the Texans. While you would hope for a win in games at home, the Bills and Chiefs may prove too strong for the Titans. Based on the schedule it looks like a record of 13 – 3 for the Titans is a realistic expectation.
Are we being too optimistic – probably? To land this stat the franchise would need to play a near-perfect season.